Taarifa Rwanda

Oral Cultural Banyarwanda vs Their Reading Habits

Before colonialists and evangelists arrived on the African continent, knowledge and information was shared orally and for generations wisdom grew richer.

And two centuries ago, the colonial clergy entered into Rwanda territory and established seminaries and schools. It is through these platforms that Rwandans were for the first time introduced to reading and writing.

But the beneficiaries from the oral background, gained little impact from the legacy of these schools, and so never fully transitioned from an oral to a literal society.

Reading wasn’t encouraged or nurtured, as form of leisure or entertainment since the only literature available at the time was either academic or religious (catechism).

Today, we have an abundance of publications mostly newspapers and magazines even though the readership is low.

Reading is still viewed as an academic pursuit that one has to endure and reap the fruits later in life, depending on the amount of the academic transcripts one possessed. Most graduates went through a system of cramming or memorizing word-by-word and line by line.

In pre-colonial Africa knowledge was predominantly oral but rich with wisdom. However, the post-colonial generation has lost all these things, including their identity (Agaciro).

Ignorance is a vice that leads to the downfall of society. It has to be shunned.

These colonial institutions have done little to motivate the young ones to gain interest in learning and this is gradually crippling their natural intellect.

If Banyarwanda youth are not schooled in advanced literacy, they will know little of their rich history. When our future leaders grow from darkness to darkness, it means the people who don’t know their past, won’t know where they are going or where they are heading.

In the current situation, science and technological courses have taken over the continent by storm to the detriment of literary subjects. The emphasis to do away with literary subjects is getting louder by the day within our current education system.

The reasoning is that Asian Tigers are excelling in technology,..and why not us? After all technology is our only salvation. Remember we poor folks in Africa need poverty alleviation.

Yego, yego.. access to information and services is quicker and hustle free.

If I may ask, of what good is it for you being a good Munyarwanda geek, programmer, and scientist? fixing all the world`s problems but unable to fix your own problems since everybody is busy fixing it for you.

If you have no identity, you are simply not morally equipped to face a world that makes mockery of your skills and academia. Such a scenario is not uplifting in this age of enlightenment.

Finally, initiatives to mitigate these issues have been sought after by many Africans enlightened during their stints abroad (diaspora-men) or even home grown young ones, with the gift of natural intellect (bwenge karemano)!

They bring a glimmer of hope to the continent as much as their endeavours seem like a drop in the ocean considering the challenging environment they work in.

They make us proud!


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